A Guide to French Immigration Law (2022)


The nation state of France is littered with bureaucracy. Those who have sought immigration to France know this all too well. The laws surrounding immigration are extensive and constantly changing. There are many factors that alter the process of French immigration such as your country of origin and reason for immigrating. Here is some information regarding the protocol of French immigration law.

Facts about immigration in France

A Guide to French Immigration Law (1)

Part of the Iron Curtain in Europe – Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

For as long as France has existed there has been immigration. Abruptly after the end of World War II, France saw a sharp rise in immigration.

This influx was supported by the French government who sought to bring in as many immigrant workers as possible in order to help with the reconstruction of France. What France lacked in French labor, they found in immigrants from the Americas, Africa, Europe and Asia.

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The face of French immigration has changed as Europe’s Refugee Crises sweeps through the EU countries. French laws supporting immigration (both legal and illegal) have become stricter and more prevalent.

In 2014 there were nearly 6 million immigrants reportedly living in France. The overwhelming majority of immigrants, however, were not from countries affected by the Refugee Crisis, but instead were immigrants from other EU countries.

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In 2008 it was calculated that the descendants of immigrants living in France totaled 12 million, nearly 20% of all French citizens. Immigration is ingrained in the culture and history of France.

Immigration within the European Union

A Guide to French Immigration Law (2)

The European Union, or EU, is a collection of different countries on the European continent. It was officially created in 1957 in order to unify European countries in the wake of the nationalism that had led to World War II. There are now 28 states bound together under the EU.

Among other things, the EU allows for a free movement of its people. This means that citizens of any of the European countries within the EU are allowed to live and work in any other European country.

Some countries, such as Switzerland, Norway and Iceland, are not part of the EU but are instead a part of the Schengen Area. The Schengen Area includes 25 countries that have abolished borders between other Schengen countries, leaving travelers free to move without control.

Spouses of EU citizens have the same rights of entry as any EU citizens but, if they are seeking to live in France, they must must apply for a residence permit card (carte de séjour) within the first two months of their arrival in France.

Obtaining a Carte de Séjour and long term residency permit as a non-EU citizen

A Guide to French Immigration Law (3)

Immigration by country to France – Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

If you desire to stay in France longer than the 90 days allowed to tourists, you must apply for a Carte de Séjour within the first two months of your arrival in France.

To apply for a Carte de Séjour you will have to go to the local Prefecture and set up a meeting. There you will have an interview regarding the reason for your application and plans for your future in France.

You will be asked to provide proof of your financial records as well as proof that you will be able to support yourself during your time in France.

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Once you have obtained your Carte de Séjour, you will need to renew it on a yearly basis (sometimes three years depending on the circumstance of your stay).

After living in France for over five years, you can apply for a long term residency card that will be renewed every ten years and will grant you the right to vote as a nationalized citizen.

To obtain the long term residency card you will have to prove the validity of your stay and show that you have a good command of the French language.

Realize, however, that the process changes depending on your circumstance, such as the reason for why you are in France and the country you are coming from. It is important to do specific research on the protocol surrounding your specific circumstance and your place of birth.

Joining a family member in France as a non-EU citizen

If you have a spouse or relative who is a French national and you wish to join them, you must apply for a long-stay visa while still in your home country. This is done by contacting the embassy in your home country and providing proof of your relative’s nationality and your own basic knowledge of the French language.

If your relative is not a French national but is a member of the EU, you will have to apply in France. Once again, the factors change depending on the reason for your relative’s stay in France and how long they have been living there.

Seeking asylum in France

A Guide to French Immigration Law (5)

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Seeking asylum in France can prove to be the most complicated side of French immigration. The process is long and changes depending on whether or not you have already applied for asylum in another European country.

The process begins at the PADA (plateforme d’accueil pour demandeurs d’asile). This platform helps migrants seeking asylum. You must contact PADA within the first 120 days of your arrival in France.

Nothing is required for your meeting with PADA, not even proof of residence.

After the meeting with PADA you will be scheduled to meet with the prefecture of police in order to state your case and reason for seeking asylum. The police will take your fingerprints and grant you a permit allowing you to stay in France for one month.

The police will give you a form (formulaire Ofpra) in which you will tell your story and explain your reason for coming to France.This is the most important part of the process.

Shortly after, you will be given a meeting in which you will discuss your paperwork and your plans for the future. Within six months of that interview you will either be accepted or denied asylum.

If you are denied, you can still appeal to the National Asylum Court in order to overturn the decision. If you are accepted, you then proceed to apply for a Carte de Séjour.

Wrap up and some extra information

Unless you were lucky enough to be born into the European Union, the immigration process for France is long and complex. The best way to prepare yourself is to be knowledgable about your specific situation and what you must do in order to live in France. Every circumstance is different.

I would advice extensive research into what you need to do and what will be required of you. Below are some of the best websites that will help you in your further research.

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France Diplomatie is the official guide to French immigration.

The Prefecture is where you will have to go in order to apply for residency.

The OFII is the official page for French immigration and has particular information regarding types of visas and the application process.

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FAQs

How can I legally immigrate to France? ›

Thus, any person seeking entry to France must start out by drafting and submitting an application to the French Consulate, which is specifically responsible for his country of residence. Submitting application to a wrong Consulate authority most likely will result in refusal to issue an approval.

What are the rules for French residency? ›

You may apply for a resident card if you:
  • Provide evidence of regular and uninterrupted residence for at least 3 years in France;
  • Arrived in France as a result of a family reunification procedure;
  • Are joining a non European citizen who has a resident card;
1 Aug 2022

Can I move to France from UK after Brexit? ›

As from the 1st of January 2021 you will need to apply for a visa to travel and to move to France (pursuant to the EU Directive 2004/38). Third country nationals, residing in the UK, are no longer automatically exempt from Airport Transit Visas (ATV) – depending on your nationality you may have to apply for a ATV.

How long can you stay in France if you own property? ›

The temporary long-stay visa is valid for up to a year, although it is typically issued for stays of between four to six months (remember, if you plan to spend longer than six months in France, it is likely that you will be classed as living in France for tax purposes).

Can a British person move to France? ›

If you are planning to move to France and work, you may need a visa. Read the French government's guidance on working in France as a foreign national and how to get a visa (in French). To apply for a job you may need to provide a: UK police certificate.

How can I immigrate to France from UK? ›

Moving to France from UK - The Checklist
  1. Organise your UK and French paperwork.
  2. Research the cost of living.
  3. Secure your visa, residency and work papers.
  4. Register with the French government.
  5. Sort your utilities, Internet and post.
  6. Setup Your French bank account.
  7. List emergency contacts.
  8. Organise your move.

Can you have dual UK and French residency? ›

Overview. If you live in the UK and another country and both countries tax your income, you're a dual resident. You can claim full or partial relief on UK tax if the 2 countries have a double taxation agreement that allows you to do so.

How long can UK residents stay in France? ›

Citizens of the European Union, European Economic Area, Switzerland, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, and the Vatican may stay in the European territory of France without a visa for longer than 90 days.

How much money do I need to retire to France from UK? ›

The France visa service requires evidence that you have income or funds of at least equivalent to the French minimum wage (salaire minimum interprofessionnel de croissance – SMIC). In 2022, the SMIC is €19,237 a year before deductions for tax and social contributions.

How do I move from UK to France 2022? ›

Posted in Living in France. Last updated on 06 October 2022 .
...
Applying for a Carte de Sejour in France
  1. your passport and visa/existing residency permit (original documents and a photocopy)
  2. 3 or 4 passport photos,
  3. your arrêté de nomination (work contract details) and procès-verbal d'installation (signed work contract),
6 Oct 2022

Can I move to France without a job? ›

It's possible to move to France without a job. The ease of this process depends on your nationality. If you are an EEU or EEA citizen, you can travel to France and look for a job. However, if you are a non-EU citizen, you need to apply for a French visa in your country before your move.

How much money do you need to live in France after Brexit? ›

Is there an income test for moving to France post Brexit? When you apply for your visa, you must provide various documents as well as proof that you have sufficient income. As a guide, income should be equivalent to the 'SMIC' (minimum wage in France) €1231 net per month.

Can I have a French bank account without a French address? ›

Can I have a French bank account without a French address? You can technically open a French bank account without a French address, but your options are far more limited. Almost every bank will require proof of address in France, such as a utility bill.

How long can you stay in France on a British passport? ›

Visas. You can travel to countries in the Schengen area, which France is part of, for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa. This applies if you travel as a tourist, to visit family or friends, to attend business meetings, cultural or sports events, or for short-term studies or training.

What are the tax implications of owning a second home in France? ›

The capital gain generated after the sale of a second home is taxed on income tax at a rate of 19% after deduction, depending on the length of time the property is held.

Can I retire to France? ›

Retired non-EU citizens need a residence permit for retired persons to allow them to enter France. Keep in mind that if you are from a non-EU country, you cannot get a residence permit card without obtaining a long-stay visa first.

Where to live in France if you are English? ›

The seven best places for expats to live in France are: Paris, Brittany, Lyon, Montpellier, Luberon, Dordogne, and Provence. These choices are based on what we think will matter most to those of you that are thinking about moving. Check out the table below for our summary, and read on for further detail!

How much money do you need to emigrate to France? ›

The minimum monthly earnings requirements has therefore increased from nothing to €1,329 net income per month for a single person and around €2,658 net income per month for a couple.

How much money do I need to move to France? ›

Although France tends to be slightly more expensive than the U.S., a couple can live a modest lifestyle for just under $2,500 per month.

Can I still retire to France after Brexit? ›

Retirement visas. If you are looking to retire to France from the UK, unless you hold a European passport, you will now need to apply for a Long Stay Visa (which is also called French Residency). Thankfully, the French have made the process quite straightforward.

Can you hold a French and British passport? ›

Dual citizenship (also known as dual nationality) is allowed in the UK. This means you can be a British citizen and also a citizen of other countries. You do not need to apply for dual citizenship. You can apply for foreign citizenship and keep your British citizenship.

Can a UK resident buy a house in France? ›

Yes, you can still buy and own property in France post-Brexit and as a non-EU citizen. If you are planning to stay in your property for longer than 90 days, however, you will need to apply for a long-term visa.

What is the 183 day tax rule? ›

Understanding the 183-Day Rule

Generally, this means that if you spent 183 days or more in the country during a given year, you are considered a tax resident for that year. Each nation subject to the 183-day rule has its own criteria for considering someone a tax resident.

How does the 90 days in 180 work in France? ›

What is the Schengen 90/180 rule? Under the terms of Schengen, non-EEA nationals cannot spend more than a total of 90 days within a total period of 180 days without a visa. Furthermore, once you've used up your quota of 90 days, you cannot return to Schengen until 90 more days have passed.

Do you have to pay council tax in France? ›

The taxe d'habitation, or the French Council Tax, is an annual tax levied on the occupants of French properties on January 1st, whether the property is rented or owned. The local council (commune) determines the tax, but it is calculated and collected by the central government tax authority.

How do I get a 10 year card in France? ›

How to apply for a 10-year Resident Card? If you are planning to apply for this residence card, then you have to apply within two months of arrival in France at the prefecture or sub-prefecture that is the closest to your home in France.

What are the pitfalls of buying a house in France? ›

Common pitfalls include purchasing a property without the right documentation (for example, surveys and planning permission certificates), underestimating the costs of renovations and extra fees, and signing contracts without fully understanding the implications of French law.

How many years do you have to work in France to get a pension? ›

In most countries you have to work a minimum number of years before you are entitled to a state pension. In the UK it is 10 years. France has a qualifying period of 15 years' worth of contributions in order to receive a state pension.

Where is the cheapest place to retire in France? ›

The country has a lot to offer, plus it is already a popular choice for people across the world regarding visiting or moving there.
...
Where are the Most Affordable Places to Live in France?
  • Montpellier. ...
  • Grenoble. ...
  • Nantes. ...
  • Châteauroux. ...
  • Dordogne. ...
  • Tarn. ...
  • Cantal.

Is moving to France a good idea? ›

We have found that an excellent work-life balance and a quality standard of living is why France is a highly attractive location to live in. Those who live in France enjoy more breaks and more paid holidays to ensure that they can spend more time with friends and family.

What documents do I need for a Carte de Sejour in France? ›

Required documents for your Carte de Séjour application
  • Your long-stay visa or current carte de séjour.
  • Your passport.
  • Your full birth certificate (translated into French)
  • Proof of address (dated less than six months old)
  • 3 x passport-style photos.
  • OFII medical certificate.
11 Nov 2021

Does France have free healthcare? ›

While private medical care exists in France, the 75% of doctors who are in the national program provide care free to the patient, with costs being reimbursed from government funds.

How do I move to France 2022? ›

You'll need to submit an application for a long-stay visa to live in France for longer than 90 days. If you're successful, you'll have a year after you arrive in France to apply and obtain a residence permit, which you can do at your local prefecture.

What happens if you overstay 90 days in France? ›

Fines – One of the most common penalties for overstaying in the Schengen Area is being fined with an amount of money, though the fees vary from one country to another. Fines, are applied alongside deportation and are not a substitute for it. They may often be followed with an entry ban too.

Can a UK resident open a French bank account? ›

To open a personal account, you need to be:

Over 18 years of age. Resident in the UK or Ireland, or a British or Irish expat resident in France. An account holder with a current account in a Bank registered in the UK or EEA. An existing or future French property owner or regular visitor to France.

Which UK banks have branches in France? ›

HSBC, Nat West, and Barclays continue to provide non-resident accounts in the UK, and HSBC and Barclays have also kept their France branches open. HSBC continues to be the largest international bank operating in France, and you will find branches in major cities throughout France.

Can I have a UK bank account if I live in France? ›

If you want to open a bank UK account without proof of UK address, then the only online banks that may accept your application will be Monese and Revolut (although these will still require proof of residency in the EU/EEA or another country).

Is it cheaper to live in France than the UK? ›

United Kingdom is 14% more expensive than France. Oct 2022 Cost of Living.

How can I move to France permanently? ›

To stay long-term, you'll have to apply for a one-year French visa, which has the option for annual renewals. Depending on your circumstances, it can take anywhere from three to ten years to obtain permanent residency. At that point, you assume nearly all of the responsibilities of a French citizen.

What does a rolling 180 day period mean? ›

Spending your 90 days within a 180-day period— The 90 days you are allowed to spend in the Schengen zone are eligible for a 180-day period. This period is commonly referred to as a “rolling timeframe” because it's constantly moving— each day you spend in Schengen advances your 180-day period.

How long can you stay in France if you own a property? ›

The temporary long-stay visa is valid for up to a year, although it is typically issued for stays of between four to six months (remember, if you plan to spend longer than six months in France, it is likely that you will be classed as living in France for tax purposes).

What is the tax shock for Brits with second homes in France? ›

Pensioners and second home owners will benefit from a reduced social charges rate for rental income, capital gains and investment income. UK citizens with homes in France will pay a 7.5% social levy rather than the 17.2% social charge (prélèvements sociaux) when selling or renting their property.

Do I need to declare UK inheritance in France? ›

Once the estate has paid UK IHT and the distributions are made to the beneficiaries, no further tax is due irrespective of whether you are a UK or French resident.

Is it hard to immigrate to France? ›

It can be hard to move here, especially if you do not speak French and want to settle in the countryside. However, a straightforward immigration system and extensive transportation infrastructure means that the practical elements of moving here alone or with family can be achieved with the correct planning.

Can I move to France without a job? ›

It's possible to move to France without a job. The ease of this process depends on your nationality. If you are an EEU or EEA citizen, you can travel to France and look for a job. However, if you are a non-EU citizen, you need to apply for a French visa in your country before your move.

How much money do you need to move to France? ›

The minimum monthly earnings requirements has therefore increased from nothing to €1,329 net income per month for a single person and around €2,658 net income per month for a couple.

Can I move to France right now? ›

Yes – but there are a few extra things you'll need to do. You'll need to submit an application for a long-stay visa to live in France for longer than 90 days. If you're successful, you'll have a year after you arrive in France to apply and obtain a residence permit, which you can do at your local prefecture.

How much money do you need to live in France after Brexit? ›

Is there an income test for moving to France post Brexit? When you apply for your visa, you must provide various documents as well as proof that you have sufficient income. As a guide, income should be equivalent to the 'SMIC' (minimum wage in France) €1231 net per month.

Where is the cheapest place to live in France? ›

Where are the Most Affordable Places to Live in France?
  • Montpellier. For those who love to live in a lively city, Montpellier is a popular and surprisingly affordable city located in the South of France. ...
  • Grenoble. ...
  • Nantes. ...
  • Châteauroux. ...
  • Dordogne. ...
  • Tarn. ...
  • Cantal.

Does France have free healthcare? ›

While private medical care exists in France, the 75% of doctors who are in the national program provide care free to the patient, with costs being reimbursed from government funds.

How long can UK citizens stay in France? ›

You can travel to countries in the Schengen area, which France is part of, for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa. This applies if you travel as a tourist, to visit family or friends, to attend business meetings, cultural or sports events, or for short-term studies or training.

How can I move to France after Brexit? ›

Getting residence in France after Brexit

All British citizens moving to France after Brexit will need to have a French residence permit (carte de séjour) if staying in France for longer than three months. The type of residence permit depends on the length and nature of stay.

Is it cheaper to live in France or UK? ›

United Kingdom is 14% more expensive than France. Oct 2022 Cost of Living.

How much are utility bills in France? ›

Living Costs in France Compared to the UK
ExpenseAverage Cost in France (€)
Basic Utilities (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Refuse Collection)€138.95 per month
Gasoline€1.42 (1 litre)
Internet (60 Mbps)€27.56 per month
Milk€0.94 (1 litre)
15 more rows

Can I live in France if I buy a house? ›

Yes, there are no restrictions on foreigners buying property in France. Even if you are not a resident, you can still buy and own French property with the option to rent it out if you want to. You will need a French bank account, valid identification, and the correct visa if you are going to live there.

How do I retire to France from UK? ›

Retirement visas. If you are looking to retire to France from the UK, unless you hold a European passport, you will now need to apply for a Long Stay Visa (which is also called French Residency). Thankfully, the French have made the process quite straightforward.

Can I retire to France? ›

Retired non-EU citizens need a residence permit for retired persons to allow them to enter France. Keep in mind that if you are from a non-EU country, you cannot get a residence permit card without obtaining a long-stay visa first.

Can you live in France without citizenship? ›

Residence and citizenship in France

If you are staying in France for more than three months, you will need a residence permit (carte de séjour). The temporary VLS-TS visa acts as a one-year residence permit which you need to validate with the OFII within three months of arrival.

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